Monthly Archives: November 2016

Update on RISE’s #BlockTheBill Campaign

Dear RISE members and supporters,

As you know, last week RISE started the #BlockTheBill campaign after members of parliament in Australia’s lower house passed the bill for a lifetime ban of refugees coming by boat.The lifetime ban of refugees bill has NOT yet been passed at the upper house.

Thank you very much to all those who have supported the campaign. If you don’t know much about our #BlockTheBill campaign, we have summarised some information for your convenience.

What is the ‘lifetime ban’ on refugees?
Why do we need to #BlockTheBill?
What can YOU do?

– A script suggestion to help you when you call

More information can be found here : http://riserefugee.org/blockthebillcampaign/

While the rest of the world turns a blind eye to the highest number of refugees being forcibly displaced globally since World War 2, we as a nation can do better. We can be an example to other nations and show them that we do not let our politicians continue barbaric and racist policies against refugees who are seeking sanctuary from persecution and harm.

RISE #BlockTheBill campaign is entirely run and managed by ex-detainees and refugees at RISE. Thank you for supporting RISE’s #BlockTheBill campaign so far.

RISE Team

#BlockTheBill Campaign

What is the ‘lifetime ban’ on refugees?

The Coalition is proposing a bill amendment that would prevent asylum seekers arriving by boat after 19 July 2013 from ever entering Australia. On 19 July 2013, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that from this day forward, all refugees arriving by boat would be blocked from gaining long-term protection and settlement in Australia. This proposed ban would add further discrimination against refugees as it is a lifetime ban that would apply to all who were adults when they arrived to Australia after July 19, 2013 and sent to a regional processing centre such as Manus and Nauru, for the rest of their ‘natural lives’. That is, until their death, they are not allowed to enter Australia unless the minister of immigration, who is a politician, and the only person in the whole of Australia with the power to do so, decides to allow them to enter.

Information that can be referred to (name of bill: Regional processing cohort)
Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016
Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016
Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 [Provisions]
Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016

Why do we need to #BlockTheBill?

1. People who have fled war, trauma and torture need long term security in order to restore their lives. The proposed legislation adds major uncertainty to the lives of asylum seekers who have fled persecution and in turn exacerbates the trauma they have endured and continue to live through.
2. It is an extreme form of xenophobia and racial discrimination. Seeking asylum is not a crime and it is a right that is upheld by International law and the Refugee Convention, of which Australia is a signatory.
3. This bill impacts the reunion of families. Some of our members still have families in offshore detention centres. If this bill goes through, they will not be able to ever see their families again.
4. There is no evidence to suggest that this proposal will eventuate in saving lives. It will instead result in returning people who’ve fled from dangerous circumstances back to the extreme situations they have fled from.
5. Australia as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with one of the smallest numbers of asylum seekers. It should not hand its responsibilities to other nations.
6. Australia has a history of racism and genocide. Far right-wing sentiments are reappearing fast. It is up to us to not repeat the abhorrent acts that Australia was built on.

What can you do?


This proposal is going to be discussed at the Senate before being passed as law. We need to ‘Say No To The Life Ban Of Refugees’ and #BlockTheBill. You can help stop this by informing the Senators that you are against this proposal. Call or email the Senators and tell them you stand with refugees and do not support the lifetime ban on refugees bill.

Details of Undecided Senators:

Senator Derryn Hinch
(02) 6277 3168
1300 498 035
Senator.Hinch@aph.gov.au

Senator David Leyonhjelm
(02) 6277 3054
1300 884 092
Senator.Leyonhjelm@aph.gov.au

Senator Jacqui Lambie
(02) 6277 3063
(03) 6431 2233
Senator.Lambie@aph.gov.au

Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore
(02) 6277 3178
(08) 8232 0440
Senator.Kakoschke-Moore@aph.gov.au

Senator Stirling Griff
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115
Senator.Griff@aph.gov.au

Senator Nick Xenophon
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115
nickxenophon.com.au

A script suggestion to help you when you call:
“Hi my name is …(name, if comfortable disclosing).. and I am calling from …(location)… I would like to express my concern and discontent with the proposal of imposing a lifetime ban on refugees. This goes against the Refugee Convention and International Law. It also goes against our humanity and morality as we should be assisting those in need of protection. Please vote NO to this proposal or you will lose my vote”

2. You can show your solidarity by changing your social media profile images : Facebook , Twitter , Poster , Facebook Banner

3. Get informed and read more about the #BlockTheBill campaign http://riserefugee.org/blockthebill/

4. Support RISE:
RISE does not accept any funding from the government; or money from anyone who invests in the upkeep of detention centres, prisons, land grabbing or any unethical conduct.RISE advocacy portfolio has not been funded since 2010 and we encourage you to make a tax-deductible donation so that we continue our work. We rely on your donations. http://givenow.com.au/riserefugee

An asylum seeker was attacked and racially vilified for the second time by the same group of 4 white men .

Four days ago, we reported that a RISE member was assaulted by 4 white men. It has happened again on Wednesday night. The same group of 4 white men, armed with the same weapons, verbally abused him and chased him into a restaurant.

Our member (an asylum seeker) was coming back from work, walking from the St Albans train station. One of the four white attackers from the first incident followed him while on a bike, and said “Remember the last time we came after you and you escaped – are you going to give us your money and phone this time?”

Our member said “Leave me alone or I’ll call the police”. The man replied “I know a lot of police, I don’t care and it doesn’t bother me at all”. After that, he cycled away returned with his three friends who were involved in the first incident, and again they started threatening and verbally abusing him.

After many racist taunts, they said “Who’s gonna save you now? Who’s gonna save you today?” Our member ran into the restaurant to hide there, and called the police. An hour after he called for help, the police arrived. Two police officers escorted him back home.

The member and his wife told the police they don’t want to stay in the area and go to the city, because they are fearful for their lives. Police told them to stay at home, because the attackers won’t try to break into their home, but to grab a cab if they wanted to go somewhere.

On Thursday night, our members were temporarily sheltered at a different location with friends. They are terrified for their safety and well-being, because it they have been seriously and purposely threatened twice by the same group and the authorities cannot keep them safe. (The media will be quick to cover black on white crime, but not cover white on black crime.) At one point this week, our members had to stay overnight at our RISE drop-in centre.

This morning (Friday 18/11/16), our members sought help from a government subcontracted organisation, where they were registered with. They were told that they should make an appointment before coming in regardless of whether it was an emergency situation, and that they have “no proof” that these incidents occurred.

What does it say about how seriously life-threatening racist hate crimes are taken when our member’s only option is to move out of the area, and hope they are not subjected to the same hatred? Remaining silent in the face of continued race-motivated attacks is acceptance and normalisation of these despicable acts, and complicity in the growth of the culture of racism and xenophobia. We highly condemn the active targeting and assaults on members of our communities, who have escaped persecution and violence, only to be met with a new form of systemic violence and racial persecution.

RISE #BlockTheBill Campaign 2016 : ‘Say No To The Life Ban Of Refugees’

Thank you so much for supporting this campaign. It has received overwhelming responses and support from the public at the local and international level.

The bill still has to be approved on the 22nd of November by the majority of Senators in the upper house in parliament before this discriminatory policy can become part of Australian law.

1. RISE Media Release –
“We refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees at RISE highly condemn the Turnbull government’s plan to introduce legislation to ban asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia”. http://riserefugee.org/03112016/

2. RISE Letter to the Australian Public –
“Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal to impose a “life ban” on refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived since 2013, as well as future refugees who will be arriving to seek protection, will be tied up with the “No Advantage Policy”, which was crafted and designed under the Labor party”. http://bit.ly/2eLoHQT

3. Video Message by RISE –
“Rather than taking cues from divisive rhetoric propagated by racist extremists such as the One Nation Party, the Australian government should treat refugees and asylum seekers with respect and dignity”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEIvULklfLA

4. Open letter from a former detainee in Australia –
“Six refugees have died on these islands and many more have suffered from cruel and degrading treatment including torture and rape and none have been provided a safe and durable option of permanent protection. Is this how Australia measures the “success” of refugee policies”? http://riserefugee.org/1492-2/

5. #BLOCKtheBILL SNAP PROTEST (19/11/2016) organised by a collective made up mostly of queer & trans people of colour (also other trans / queer folks) https://www.facebook.com/events/1849852705233228/

Making the bill legal adds to the trauma and persecution of refugees coming to Australia to seek asylum so please continue all efforts to call and email or contact Senators – particularly cross-bench senators – in the upper house to block the bill.

On behalf of RISE and refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, Manus and Nauru, we urge you take a stand. Join with us and fight against these discriminatory policies that affect our community groups indefinitely. Contact your cross-bench senators now and tell them you stand with refugees and do not support the lifetime ban on refugees bill.

RISE Team

#BlockTheBill Campaign Message by RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees

#BlockTheBill Campaign Video Message by RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees

Video Transcript :

To The People of Australia,

As you know last week, RISE started the #BlockTheBill campaign after members of parliament in Australia’s lower house passed the bill for a lifetime ban of refugees coming by boat. The bill still has to be approved on the 22nd of November by the majority of Senators in the upper house in parliament before this discriminatory policy can become part of Australian law.

Thank you so much for supporting this campaign. It has received overwhelming responses and support from the public at the local and international level. Making the bill legal adds to the trauma and persecution of refugees coming to Australia to seek asylum so please continue all efforts to call and email or contact Senators – particularly cross-bench senators – in the upper house to block the bill.

This ban, if passed, would see refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention palmed off to other countries. Australia as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with one of the smallest numbers of asylum seekers, should not hand ball its responsibilities to other nations.

While the rest of the world turns a blind eye to the highest number of refugees being forcibly displaced globally since World War 2, we as a nation can do better. We can be an example to other nations and show them that we do not let our politicians continue barbaric and racist policies against refugees who are seeking sanctuary from persecution and harm.

People who have fled war, trauma and torture need long term security in order to restore their lives. The proposed legislation does more harm than good to refugees and asylum seekers. It adds major uncertainty to the lives of asylum seekers who have fled persecution and in turn exacerbates the trauma they have endured and continue to live through. Seeking asylum is not a crime and it is a right that is upheld by the law as well as the UN Refugee Convention, of which Australia is a signatory.

Rather than taking cues from divisive rhetoric propagated by racist extremists such as the One Nation Party, the Australian government should treat refugees and asylum seekers with respect and dignity.

On behalf of RISE and refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, Manus and Nauru, we urge you take a stand. Join with us and fight against these discriminatory policies that affect our community groups indefinitely. Contact your cross-bench senators now and tell them you stand with refugees and do not support the lifetime ban on refugees bill.

Spoken by Tania Canas, RISE member and Director.
Authorised: R.Fernandez, RISE.
Produced by Blueprint Studios – http://www.blueprintstudio.com.au/

RISE Media Release – Re : Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia 03/11/2016

RISE Letter to the Australian Public – Re:Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia

Open letter from a former detainee in Australia — ‘Please fight these draconian anti-refugee laws’

Open letter from a former detainee in Australia — ‘Please fight these draconian anti-refugee laws’

I object to the proposed law announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ban asylum seekers and refugees who arrived by boat from ever entering Australia, and I call on Australians to fight and resist these unconscionable policies.

Since the reopening of detention camps outside Australia, in the remote pacific islands of Manus and Nauru, refugee boats have been intercepted by the Australian government and the asylum seekers in these boats trafficked to the islands and held hostage for the so-called joint political purpose of ‘deterring’ people smugglers.

Both major parties now contend that this policy has ‘worked’ and no more boats are arriving in Australia. However, both the Liberal and Labor parties remain committed to the imprisonment of 1313 men, women and children, at all costs and into the foreseeable future. This number includes 50 children and 56 women (www.aph.gov.au, 30 June 2016).

Both major parties intend to utilise refugees to prop up a failing political system, to win votes, wedge their opposition, and spread fear, hatred and division amongst the public. Racial hatred informs and props up this system.

Refugees and asylum seekers in Manus and Nauru continue to endure the following

1. Forcible deportation
2. Arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment
3. Denial of a transparent, accountable and fair legal process and legal representation
4. Institutionalised torture, cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment (contrary to Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights)
5. Medical neglect and criminal negligence resulting in preventable deaths
6. Systematic rape and other sexual crimes, including against children
7. Assault, grievous bodily harm and murder (the latter refers to Reza Barati who was murdered on Manus Island; the Australians implicated in his murder have never been charged).
8. Unlawful death and false imprisonment
9. An absence of settlement options, with full legal rights, citizenship protections, and safety.

In summary, Six refugees have died on these islands and many more have suffered from cruel and degrading treatment including torture and rape and none have been provided a safe and durable option of permanent protection. Is this how Australia measures the “success” of refugee policies?

As Australia remains an active participant and supporter of wars which create refugees, they have an even greater obligation to offer sanctuary and safety. Please take your international obligations seriously. Free refugees from fear and despair. I appeal to all justice-minded human beings to resist and fight this new law.

Abdul Baig
RISE Member and Ex-Detainee

Get Involved : Block The Proposed Bill

1. RISE Media Release – Re : Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia 03/11/2016

2. Letter to the Australian Public – Re:Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia 31/10/2016

RISE Media Release – Re : Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia 03/11/2016

We refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees at RISE highly condemn the Turnbull government’s plan to introduce legislation to ban asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia.

People who have fled war, trauma and torture need long term security in order to restore their lives. The proposed legislation does more harm than good to refugees and asylum seekers. It adds major uncertainty to the lives of asylum seekers who have fled persecution and in turn exacerbates the trauma they have endured and continue to live through. This is an extreme form of xenophobia or racial discrimination. Seeking asylum is not a crime and it is a right that is upheld by the law as well as the UN Refugee Convention, of which Australia is a signatory.

Ex-detainee and founder of RISE, Ramesh Fernandez said “The politicians of the Australian government are being very cunning here. They are planning to introduce this hateful legislation because the government is at the losing end at the PNG courts. Turnbull is trying to save his leadership by flexing his muscles on those most vulnerable. Like always, the government has used asylum seekers and refugees as political currency”.

Barring refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived -and continue to arrive by boat- from settling in Australia is clearly discriminatory and goes against International law. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that this will save lives. In fact, this measure will adversely result in increased numbers of people fleeing from dangerous circumstances will either be sent back to the situations they have fled from, or that they will be settled in countries which do not offer protection to asylum seekers.

The rhetoric that Australian politicians espouse on asylum seeker issues is callous: hard-line solutions, temporary protection visas, Pacific and other offshore solutions, indefinite detention, forceful deportation, deaths at sea and now, a possible continuous banning refugees and asylum seeker entering to Australia.

Rather than using coercive power to silence detainee dissent, the Turnbull government should address the legitimate concerns raised by detainees, refugees and asylum seekers in Manus and Nauru.

We should not forget that Labor party has reintroduced offshore detention centres under ‘No Advantage Policy’, they should be as equally accountable as the Coalition party. The Australian government has shamefully taken cues from One nation party leader Pauline Hanson by introducing these policies and gained her approval

“If the majority of the Senate go ahead with the decision to support Prime Minister Turnbull proposal banning refugees and asylum seekers, it will be further evidence of Australia’s shocking discrimination against people fleeing from war, torture, rape and persecution” – Ramesh Fernandez, RISE CEO

Letter to the Australian Public by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees at RISE – Re : Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia http://riserefugee.org/letter-to-the-australian-public-reproposed-legislation-to-ban-refugees-and-asylum-seekers-who-come-on-boats-from-entering-australia/

Media contact :
Abdul Baig (Onshore Ex-detainee, refugee and RISE member)
(03) 9639 8623 or admin@riserefugee.org